Napster turns up the volume in Europe as music battle escalates

NAPSTER expanded its internet music service to 14 European countries yesterday, adding to operations in the UK, Germany, and US markets.

The service, which trades as Rhapsody in the US, pioneered music file-sharing in the late 1990s after being created by Sean Parker, now a high-profile technology investor. However, it was closed down following a copyright infringement lawsuit.

The brand re-emerged as a paid-for subscription service in 2003 after a software manufacturer purchased the assets, and Napster was acquired by Rhapsody in 2011, with the company taking advantage of what it calls the “cult brand”.

Napster now has more than 1m subscribers and is aiming to expand by increasing its international presence, as competition hots up. Spotify has recently launched in extra countries while Google unveiled a similar music service last month and Apple is tipped to follow.

“Music streaming has taken off in Europe,” Napster’s European head, Thorsten Schliesche, said.

“People are open to convenient and legal ways to discover music.”

Napster will cost €9.95 (£8.50) a month in other European countries, against the £10 charged in the UK, and will allow unlimited access to web and mobile streaming of a catalogue of more than 20m songs.